Google last week revealed the official name of its next mobile operating system: “Android Nougat.” The OS previously went only by “Android N,” and Google invited the blogosphere to fill in the blanks.
The choice sparked some derision, particularly among those who had preferred “Nutella.”
“What is nougat anyway?” asked John Jackson, a research VP at IDC. “It’s like the ‘nog’ in eggnog; it doesn’t exactly stand alone.”
That said, Nougat is consistent with Google’s pattern of choosing generic sweets as Android names, while Nutella isn’t, he told LinuxInsider.
“‘Nougat’ sounds like a name a clueless celebrity couple would give their poor kid who would suffer with it through grade school,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. “As a typical product name, I think it would suck.”
That said, “The only thing everyone will agree on when it comes to a new name is that the person who came up with it is an idiot,” he told LinuxInsider.
“We actually received millions of submissions around the world,” said Google spokesperson Joshua Cruz.
“‘Android Nougat’ was one of the most popular nonbranded suggested names,” he told LinuxInsider.
What’s in a Name?
“Names are important, and the ones that stick” — no pun intended — are the best,” observed Mike Jude, a program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan .
“Once a name achieves market recognition, it then becomes a valuable commodity in its own right and can be used to sell other things associated with it,” he told LinuxInsider.
A name “is what you define a product with,” Enderle said. “However, a name for an operating system version is relatively trivial. You just want to make sure the name doesn’t translate into something unfortunate in another language.”
For example, Braniff Airlines’ 1987 slogan about its jets’ all-leather seats was “fly in leather.” This translated into “en cuero” in Spanish, which sounded like “en cueros,” meaning naked. Another branding gaffe occurred when Clairol offered a curling iron in Germany named “Mist Stick” — “mist” is German slang for manure.
What Nougat Offers
With Android Nougat, Google has focused on performance, productivity and security, Cruz said.
This latest preview of the OS — its fourth — gives devs “an early look at what’s coming in the next version of our software,” he added. “It gives the Android team time to gather and incorporate feedback, and it helps our manufacturing partners as well.”
It includes the final SDK and set of APIs for Android Nougat.
“There’s always a lot to like down in the weeds, and this release is certainly no exception,” IDC’s Jackson said. Google has “done some very progressive thigs with security — a multilayered topic that has dogged Android forever with some, but not all, the justification attributed.”
Another plus point is performance improvements with fixes to Dalvik, “though whether end users truly notice is questionable,” he said.
The latest release lets developers write straight to the GPU via the Vulcan API, which Jackson finds “interesting,” but “exactly how this gets exposed and, therefore used, is not quite clear yet.” Still, “it’s certainly notable that they’re turning the keys to the metal right over to devs.”
What’s No. 1?
The most important feature is that Google’s moving to standardize virtual reality support, Jackson said. “This is critical to growing the ecosystem; it will also be unwelcome but predictable news for the likes of Samsung and HCT, with their own blue ocean aspirations in this space.”
However, security is the most important feature, according to Enderle, “as companies and agencies are getting very uncomfortable with the number of cellphones that have been compromised.”
Final Release Issues
The final version of Android Nougat reportedly is scheduled for sometime in Q3, but Frost’s Jude is skeptical.
“I’d say Q3 is optimistic,” he said. “They’re still working out the bugs, and vendors need time to test-drive the system and make sure it’s compatible with their devices.”
Still, if Google can make Android Nougat available for new devices released during the upcoming holiday season, suggested Jude, “they are golden.”